On Saturday, I decided to try a different indoor cycling studio to my usual Soul Cycle. It’s $5 cheaper and has free parking that’s closer to my home.
From the moment I stepped in, everything felt familiar to Soul Cycle. Even the unique amenities upon check-in: gum, earplugs, shoes, and water.
The graphic design carried a familiar modern typeface, the name starting with the letter S, black and white colour palette; only their accent colour is orange, not yellow. They even had the same branded walls in the environment, only with different letters.
The exercise experience was exactly the same too: cycling infused with dance party meets mindfulness coaching, light show, arm exercises on the bike, candles–the whole thing.
I walked out of there feeling like I had been cheating on Soul Cycle.
It got me thinking about the value of being The First to market and how important it is to brand bravely. Copycat branding is more common than one would think.
What differences do you see between the two products?
What about these two brands? What’s the difference here?
I never thought that much about generic brands and copycat brands as I NEVER encounter a client wanting to create a copycat brand (or what some might call ‘brandjacking’) until my recent experience with the Soul Cycle copycat.
I understand that generic brands can provide the same or similar value to the original brand while saving you a buck but as a branding expert my opinion is this: the generic brand clearly lacks imagination and as such I would venture to say it would also lack customer loyalty. What motivation does a customer have to be loyal with a copycat brand?
Soul Cycle, the established brand, started the trend that now others are following because their brave concept became such a success. This copycat brand just came in, opened up shop, purchased equipment and copied the essence of Soul Cycle. No wonder I felt like a cheater.
At the beginning of building a business, the challenge with branding is nailing a unique and brave concept that no one is doing but everyone wants (even if they don’t know it yet).
It might feel a bit out of your comfort zone to be bold and brave but it’s soooo worth it!!!
Own that wild idea you have! Take this as a sign that the Universe is handing you a permission slip to go for it!
You could just be sitting on a Starbucks for your industry like Soul Cycle once was.